Gerrard Cowan
By Gerrard Cowan

Gerrard Cowan is a freelance journalist who specializes in finance and defense. Follow him on Twitter @gerrardcowan

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Thales PureFlyt could be adapted for eVTOL aircraft

Thales sees strong potential for its new PureFlyt flight management system (FMS) in the eVTOL space, with the system’s emphasis on improved trajectory management technologies holding particular potential in the new sector, the company has told eVTOL.com.

Thales PureFlyt FMS display
Thales’ PureFlyt display shows the pilot how the aircraft is forecast to behave throughout the duration of the flight. While PureFlyt has been developed for crewed aircraft initially, it could be adapted for autonomous aircraft in the future. Thales Photo

PureFlyt, which is also being marketed for conventional aircraft, represents an advance in FMS in several ways, said André Cléroux, FMS product line director at Thales. It is more powerful than previous systems, both in terms of hardware and processing capabilities, he said. Second, it is “modular and more open,” drawing on both onboard and open-world data, such as weather information.

This second area is particularly relevant to eVTOL, said Emmanuel Guyonnet, Thales’ director for Flight Avionics Drone Program. According to the company, the use of this modular architecture has particular implications for eVTOL aircraft, with a trajectory management module allowing for optimized flight, decreased electric consumption, and improved passenger comfort.

While this would be advantageous in any aircraft, it could have particular benefits for eVTOLs and drones, particularly when they transition to autonomous and beyond-line-of-sight flight, he added. 

“They have to be very safe, and in order for them to be safe, you need to control absolutely the trajectory of those aircraft, making sure that the flight plan you compute can actually be flown,” he said. The use of modular certified software and open-world data can help ensure this, he added. 

Thales has designed PureFlyt to be able to evolve looking forward, in order to adapt to domains like air taxis as they develop. The company underlined this point in its initial announcement of the technology, stating that “with the global commercial aircraft fleet forecast to double by 2030, and the use of drones set to rapidly grow, we will be entering an era in which millions of aircraft movements are recorded each day.”

PureFlyt is an open architecture system, said Cléroux, relying on certain “building blocks” that can be reorganized as needed. This is important for eVTOL, he said, particularly if eVTOL and other aircraft move to autonomy.

“For example, today it doesn’t have the features to operate without a pilot in the cockpit — there are many safety systems that need to be in place to do this,” he said. “However, the product architecture was designed for evolution,” he added, and could adapt to a pilotless platform with relative ease, depending on original equipment manufacturer needs.

Thales has had a number of early conversations with eVTOL manufacturers, said Guyonnet, though he declined to provide more details due to non-disclosure agreements. The company plans to make PureFlyt available for both linefit and retrofit on conventional aircraft in 2024.

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  1. FMS derived from fixed-wing behaviour, flight plans and inertia might not be best-suited for eVTOL application.
    eVTOL is targeted at the high-frequency, short duration, low-level environment – a much different scenario than Thales might be used to.
    I agree that PureFlyt has potential – but so do many other ‘players’ out there 😉

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